From rural communities to entrepreneurs, this organization is ready to support growth

Posted on May 3, 2018

Paula Jensen
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Comments Off on From rural communities to entrepreneurs, this organization is ready to support growth

SiouxFalls.Business with Jodi Schwan
May 1, 2018

This piece is presented by the Minnehaha County and Lincoln County Economic Development Associations.

Joe Bartmann believes now is the time for rural communities to be bold.

And, as the new leader of Dakota Resources, he’s willing to help them achieve those visions.

Bartmann has a history of assisting communities of all sizes in economic development efforts and will be especially focused on those in rural South Dakota.

We recently learned more about his organization and how it can assist the communities in Minnehaha and Lincoln counties.

Congratulations on your new role. For those who aren’t familiar with Dakota Resources, what exactly does your organization do?

Thank you very much. We are a nonprofit that empowers rural people to shape their local communities and economies. Together with our partners, we invest in community leaders who are investing in themselves, connecting them to resources, stories and each other.

Often community development requires financing. How can Dakota Resources help with capital investment?

Through our capital investment fund, we offer pre-approved, very flexible lending to economic development organizations in rural communities. Those organizations can then use our dollars to make local economic development projects happen. We also offer free financial reviews and coaching to economic development organizations in rural South Dakota, so that is a great way to get started exploring ways we might work together.

Dakota Resources also offers a learning network. How does that work, and who can get involved in it?

The learning network is all about connecting local economic development leaders to each other, to ideas from outside their town and to the resource providers who can help them. We offer a hybrid experience that combines online, on-demand learning opportunities with face-to-face meet-ups and retreats around specific themes that are important in the moment. The network is meant for smaller-town economic development leaders – that includes any community in South Dakota outside of Sioux Falls or Rapid City.

Membership in our online learning network is $100 per month for each community. We’ve been intentionally growing it slowly, so we can create the best experience for the communities who jumped in early.

Right now, we are piloting a subgroup in our network with a handful of economic development leaders from Minnehaha and Lincoln counties. This group is exploring what unique needs and opportunities might exist in our network for communities that are growing rapidly or in the shadow of a city like Sioux Falls.

What additional resources can communities access through Dakota Resources?

We work with local community and economic development organizations in a lot of ways. We facilitate strategic planning and community meetings, and we offer coaching to groups who are trying to make things happen locally.

Sometimes we work with a community group just one time, and often we work with them over many months or even years in a coaching relationship. We teach them how to get better at running their organizations, at engaging more people in the community and how to organize the work that needs to be done.

We also work directly with small-town entrepreneurs who are ready to grow their business beyond startup stage and make a big impact in their communities. We have a fellowship for those entrepreneurs called Dakota Rising, and we help local economic development leaders with strategies and approaches to developing a pipeline of entrepreneurs in many stages of startup and growth.

What are some initial goals you have for growing the organization?

I keep talking about thinking about our work in terms of 100 years of rural impact. We are just over 20 years into that as an organization, and we’ve been really focused on being innovative and taking creative approaches to solving local problems. Now, we’re ready to focus everything on doing more of what works.

We’ve learned we can rely less and less on the past when we are creating the future in rural communities. We have to be shaping that future as it is emerging.

Ultimately, we’re evolving a better model for getting people involved in making the things happen that they care most about in their community.

If business and community leaders want to learn more, what should they do?

Give us a call or shoot us an email. You can reach me directly at or 605-937-8257. We’d love to hear your ideas and questions.

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